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I feel like I wasted so much time on content review...

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by doctor in da makin, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. doctor in da makin

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    I have been studying for a little over two months. It was mostly content review, with a few practice questions at the end of every chapter. I have been doing CARS for a long time, but haven't been improving as much I would like (but thats another issue)

    I really started looking at practice tests last week and that's when I realized that I was studying the completely wrong way. I was lucky to get even half of the questions right. And it seemed like I was guessing on almost everything. Is this normal to feel after your first practice tests?

    I feel like doing any further content review would be a waste of time after these practice tests. But then again, the whole reason I have been content reviewing was because I am not particularly strong in any MCAT subject.

    Advice?
     
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  2. Moose A Moose

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    How long until your MCAT? There's nothing wrong with solid content review before starting up a bunch of practice exams as long as you have everything timed out properly.
     
  3. Tiffafi

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    This is exactly what happened to me this summer. Starting studying a few days after finals at the beginning of may then took a practice test after 2 months only to get completely destroyed. So I felt hopeless, burnt out, and like I just wanted to cry in bed. It felt like all my studying was a waste.

    But after I pulled myself together I started reviewing the practice test and seeing how questions were being asked. I paid attention to what topics I was missing the most on and tried to base my content review off that.

    Unfortunately I've run out of time and know I will be retaking, but now I know how to study. Practice tests with content review in between is my method now. Even though I don't know all the material, just doing practice tests and questions teaches me how to eliminate answers and points out weak spots for me.

    I hope this is at least somewhat helpful! Don't feel discouraged, this is a new test and it's hard just figuring out where to start. But you can do it!
     
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  4. ready2go2

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    Felt the same way! I felt like I basically lost 6 weeks to content review and only retained 50-60% percent of it. But I left 2 months before my exam time to do practice problems and feeling much better now for the 22nd.
     
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  5. doctor in da makin

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    Haven't rescheduled yet, but Mid-Late Sep/Early Oct.
     
  6. doctor in da makin

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    The problem is, I'm getting ALOT of stuff wrong so I feel like I have to reread an book
     
  7. doctor in da makin

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    I haven't even touched Chem or Physics yet for content review, so I would probably get every question on those topics wrong. My question to you is: whats the point of doing practice problems if you don't even know the subject that well to begin with?
     
  8. Tiffafi

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    Even without knowing the subject very well, some questions you can guess correctly just by understanding what they're asking and eliminating answers. So i wouldn't just do content review alone. After you take a practice test, really take the time to go through and understand why you missed it and you can use that as a guide of what to study. For example, I missed a problem regarding solubility, so I went back to my book and read the section on solubility. I didn't focus on every detail of it, but know I understand why I missed the problem and maybe next time I'll be able to get it right.

    This way you're working on both your test strategy and your content knowledge.

    And I was the same, I hadn't even started with chem and physics before doing practice and obviously that made it difficult, but it gave me a better idea of where to start.
     
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  9. doctor in da makin

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    Thanks for the advice. Its good that you had the exact same issues as me and were able to solve them, so I can learn from you.

    What books/study materials did you use for practice problems?
     
  10. Tiffafi

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    I hope it works for you! Still figuring out what works best for me but so far this has helped me the most.

    For books I've been using EK and supplementing the psych/soc stuff with TPR. EK's biochem isn't very detailed but I just took biochem and metabolism luckily. I've also been watching khan academy videos and random youtube videos when I get really stuck. For practice tests I used EK and AAMC and practice passages on khan.
     
  11. HopkinsCardio21

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    Yeah content review is good, but start practicing and reviewing even if you are not 100% done with content review. you can practice and study at the same time, they don't have to be mutually exclusive. As for CARS i was also having problems with it, but try paying attention to punctuation (commas, periods - pause when you see them) and write a little summary after reading the whole passage, hopefully this helps
     
  12. Moose A Moose

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    You're studying "for the MCAT", not content. It sounds odd, but that's how it works. They generally recycle question types, so after you take a bunch practice exams, you'll have a solid understanding of how to approach most problem sets.
     
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  13. ready2go2

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    Hmm for me content review was just that... REview. I am thankful for my quality science courses that gave me a solid knowledge of the majority of the material. The review was a just refresher (albeit a non-thorough one). By going through the the practice problems, I was able to identify which content I really needed to review, instead of just reviewing everything!
     
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  14. Ad2b

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    Here's what I'm doing (and I AM starting to stress out)

    1) take a section test (Kaplan, I paid the $1800+ for the full course)
    2) get crappy, tear inducing score
    3) print out the page with all the topics and green check or red X
    4) click on every single topic and do a :smack: or I write it down on a different piece of paper
    5) go to Khan, research that topic on the MCAT section, watch, take notes and move on

    I will continue to follow this for the rest of this week. On Sunday, Aug 9, I will take the AAMC FL, try not to faint and do the same thing for the following two weeks.

    My hope, as others have suggested, is that by practicing what the MCAT tests and HOW the MCAT tests is > than the nitty gritty details in the 7 books I was sent by Kaplan.

    Remember: part of this is training us for med school. There are very few, if any, that can master every detail on every subject for everything related to medicine.
     
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  15. doctor in da makin

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    I tried to avoid doing extensive practice problems before finishing my content review, but now that I've started, I know that I MUST improve in that aspect. But I now feel extremely discouraged.

    I feel like I don't know squat when I sit down and look at some of these questions...

    I started studying 2 months ago, but I really feel as though my real preparation starts right now.

    Thanks for all your advice, everyone.
     
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  16. basophilic

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    Also, do the right kinds of problems. The AAMC skills 1 and 2 (which correspond to content recall and content application to passage respectively) are only like 60% (?) of the questions while Skills 3 and 4 (experimental design/research and statistics skills respectively) are the other 40%. Imo the first 2 are the easier ones while the latter 2 are much more difficult. Those latter two have to practiced in a very different way from skills 1 and 2 - they are entirely reasoning/logic based so have to be honed in a CARS-like way. Hence, for skills 1 and 2 use whatever material you can find from the last century; for 3 and 4, EK30min exams, KA passages, and journal articles. The key though is how thoroughly you review the passages.
     
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  17. dushash

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    I feel same way, I'm almost done with content (save for 3 last Biochem chapters) and just started doing passage based questions and I was shocked at how completely different they look from what I learned in content review. I feel like I barely know anything about what they ask.

    Probably, doing passages and FL's will eventually close the gap between content and passage questions - kinda put everything in balance together. I guess there are 2 sides for successful MCAT: content AND questions/passages/practice - the later one is somewhat different from pure content.
     
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  18. Jack Westin

    Jack Westin CARS Instructor
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    Content review is not MCAT studying. That's pre-MCAT studying. MCAT studying = 3 months of doing questions all day / timed exams (and reviewing right and wrong answers)
     
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  19. DrH2O

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    Is there even 3 months worth of practice material out there?
     
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  20. qwe7791

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    OP, I can definitely relate to you right now. I'm using mcatjelly's schedule, and I think it's a great guide to get me started. It's just that reading an entire lecture takes me a full 2 days and then I need another 2 days to do the relevant Berkeley Review passages, and then I get 20% of the answers correct... It's discouraging. Should I just do very brief content review even though I don't have a deep understanding on the topic and just focus on plowing through the relevant Berkeley review questions and reading the solutions to understand how to do those types of problems this way?
     
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  21. Jack Westin

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    @DrH2O there's two years worth of material out there.
     
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  22. bearintraining

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    So I'm going to disagree with people here -- I think content review is key. Practice helps, but it only helps you in recognizing why you made a wrong assumption or forgetting a detail or simply didnt understand the science. It does also point out to you what kind of questions to expect -- the best for this is the AAMC guide, the AAMC FL and the AAMC Qs.. but to be honest, other than that, I think knowing and understanding the content is more important.
     
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  23. bearintraining

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    For CARS: I trust in the EK strategy (I scored 130 on the July exam -- the best I've ever done on VR or CARS).. practice can help you in learning how to apply it.
     
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  24. drechie

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    briefly, what is the EK strategy?
     
  25. bearintraining

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    It's a bit complicated to summarize, but I'll try: one big difference between TPR and EK (I took a TPR course in 2011) is that TPR has the "skimming" type strategy with a huge focus on reading questions first and things like that. EK tells you definitely NOT to skim. They also focus a lot on essentially "dumbing down" the questions and the answers... make it simple.. think about what you are really being asked. They also have some of the information on typical distractors and wrong answers etc, but I think their overall philosophy is "simplify".

    They have an exercise in one of the chapters where they basically show you that you can even figure out the majority of the right answers to a passage by just using the questions and their answers as a way to guide you through. I think they did a great a job with their recommendations.

    Their CARS book isn't very long... I'd recommend you get it if you haven't.
     
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  26. gothicfoxes

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    This. While it's possible to get the correct answer from the passage provided, finding the correct answer is easier when you have a solid knowledge of what's being discussed in the passage (for natural & social science passages). If content was irrelevant, AAMC wouldn't publish guides with subject breakdowns. The MCAT is the synthesis of your science knowledge and critical reading skills. It's a combination many students haven't been tested on before, and I think that's why people struggle with prep and the exam itself. x
     
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  27. bizbee

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    For MCAT 2015?
     
  28. doctor in da makin

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    If you have time, review everything. But I have found that the actual MCAT (with some exceptions) requires you to know a little about alot of topics, not alot about a little topics.
     
  29. El-Rami

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    If I could go back and redo how I studied, I would basically do 3 months of practice tests and passages. I learned more from doing those than from content review. If you do this, make mistakes, but LEARN from those mistakes so you gain a better understanding of the topic, I guarantee you'll score higher. I know it's been said many, many times before, but you are studying for the MCAT. The content review books are just supplemental to your main practice tools, which will be the passages and exams. You don't have to do FLs all summer. It's OK to skip around a test and just do a sectional exam, but timing is key.

    Don't read something in your review books unless you just don't remember it at all because it's been so long or you never learned it. If you know it's a weak spot (from doing passage questions), then you know you need to do a quick read through your book to better understand it. Then you follow up by doing exclusively questions in that topic in something like Berkeley Review for a few hours until you get it.
     
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  30. ChrisMack390

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    I did 3 months of content review with practice tests on Saturdays, then 1 month of heavy passage based practice.

    If I was to go back and do it all again, I would probably do 2 and 2 instead.
     
  31. doctor in da makin

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    I'm taking my test on September 23, but my Chem/Physics scores are just way too low right now, and I will probably have to void it. At least I will be more prepared the next time.
     
  32. TheRelevant

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    I'll disagree. Both are required. It's why all these study guides (S2N, mcatjelly etc.) all emphasize content + practice in parallel. You can't understand problems without content. And you can't score as well without practice. I still think content > practice. For my Aug 5th exam, I was able to get 128 and 129 in BIO/PSYCH respectively by just doing content review exclusively. Re-taking on Sept 23rd after having done a bit more content review and a lot more practice questions. I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  33. ChrisMack390

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    I think a lot of it depends on your baseline skills. For example I was already good at reading comprehension and test taking strategy, so content review really boosted my scores up a bunch. I've also been out of college for a couple of years. Someone who is fresh out of college might have all the content down but need to more practice to improve.
     

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